Business English Vocabulary Builder: Powerful Idioms, Sayings and Expressions

Understand the different uses of because of and due to in English

Understand the different uses of because of and due to in English

"Because of" and "due to" are prepositional phrases that are often used to show the cause or reason for something, but they are used in slightly different ways and have different grammatical roles.

"Because of":

"Because of" is a prepositional phrase that is usually followed by a noun or noun phrase. This phrase is used to show the reason or cause of an action or situation.

Example: "The game was canceled because of the heavy rain." In this sentence, "because of" is followed by the noun phrase "the heavy rain," which shows the reason for the cancellation of the match.

"Due to":

"Due of" is also a prepositional phrase, but it is often followed by an adjective or noun. This phrase is used to attribute a result or effect to a specific cause or reason.

Example: "The delay in the project was due to a lack of funding." In this sentence, "because" is followed by the adjective phrase "lack of funding", which attributes the cause of the delay to the lack of funding.

To summarize, the main difference between "because of" and "due to" lies in the structure and type of phrase that follows it. "Because of" is usually followed by a noun or noun phrase and indicates the reason for an action or situation, whereas "due to" is often followed by an adjective or noun and attributes the result to a specific cause. However, in most cases, these two words can be used interchangeably without any significant loss of meaning.

What is the difference between the two phrases?

When writing, many people tend to choose "due to" over "because" because it's short and easy to say, and somehow sounds a little more formal. However, according to traditional grammar rules, this is usually not the right choice.

Technically, "because of" should only be used as an adjective and come after a noun. For example, you could say: The cancellation was due to rain.  "Cancellation" is a noun, and "due to" describes it. 

"Because of", on the other hand, should modify the verb. So, you might want to say: The game was canceled because of rain.  "Was canceled" is a verb phrase, so "because of" is the right choice.

Some easy ways to remember

Another easy way to remember this rule is that "due to" can be replaced with "caused by". 

In the sentence, A cancellation can be caused by rain, but saying that it was canceled caused by rain doesn't make sense.

Here are some examples to help you visualize the difference:

Correct: The business failed because of its poor location.
 Incorrect: The business failed due to its poor location.

Correct: The business's failure was due to poor location.
 Incorrect: The business's failure was because of poor location.

Of course, language changes over time, and many grammarians argue that the "due to" vs "because of" rule is no longer relevant. In everyday conversation, you probably don't need to feel self-conscious about using the "wrong" word, but if you know you're emailing a grammar expert, you might want to play it safe and keep this rule in mind. You don't want to be ridiculed for bad grammar, do you? Nonetheless, this grammar usage topic is another grammar rule that you can safely ignore.

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The Great Book of American Idioms: A Dictionary of American Idioms, Sayings, Expressions & Phrases, pub-0635550082769608, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0